Memory and Reconciliation in the Asia-Pacific

August 15: The Legacy of World War II on the Sixty Fourth Anniversary of Japan’s Surrender
August 14, 2009, 8:34 pm
Filed under: Japan, Korea, POW and Forced Labor, Yasukuni Shrine

On August 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito announced to the Japanese public Japan’s acceptance of the Potsdam declaration, and the country’s surrender to the Allied powers.  Although the official instrument of surrender was not signed until September 2, 1945, August 15 is recognized as the date of the conclusion of World War II in the Pacific theater.

In the post-War period, August 15 has come to be commemorated as “Victory over Japan” or “V-J” day in the United States, the “Shusen Kinenbi” or the “Anniversary of the War’s End” in Japan, and “Gwangbokjeol” or “Restoration of the Light” (Liberation) day in South Korea.

Despite the differences in naming, today, August 15th 2009 (August 14th in the United States) marks the sixty fourth anniversary of the day Japan announced its surrender to the World in 1945.  The evening edition of the news in the United States, and the morning edition of the news in Japan and Korea have thus far carried minimal coverage of this event.  The ‘non-remembrance’ of the end of World War II in the Pacific has frustrated veterans such as Albert Perdeck (NY Times, “Keeping Alive Memories That Bedevil Him,” Aug. 13, 2009) and furthermore, begs the question of whether this symbolizes the world moving on past the post-War era, or whether it is simply a symptom of historic amnesia?

The articles that do, however, report on this event are as follows:

On Liberation Day: It’s Crucial to Know and Surmount Former Colonizer, The Korea Times, Aug. 14, 2009.

The 64th National Ceremony to Mourn the War Dead Held Today, 7200 Bereaved Families Participate [Japanese], The MSN-Sankei News, Aug. 15, 2009.

This Land–Keeping Memories Alive That Bedevil Him, The New York Times, Aug. 13, 2009.

Summer of the General Election, With a Quiet “Yasukuni” Resolution to the Issue Remains Unforeseen [Japanese], The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 15, 2009.

Government to Invite U.S. Bataan POWs, The Daily Yomiuri, Aug. 15, 2009.

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